McDonald’s is the latest to file trademark applications for virtual goods, services and even virtual restaurants and cafes, leaning into a growing trend of major corporations preparing for a potential wave of virtual reality marketplaces spearheaded by Meta, parent company of Facebook, and its envisioned virtual world, the metaverse.
Josh Gerben, a trademark lawyer whose firm tracks new trademark filings on a daily basis, first made note of the requests on Twitter Wednesday, pointing out 10 applications filed by McDonald’s.
The McDonald’s filings, listed February 4, request to trademark, among other things, “Operating a virtual restaurant featuring actual and virtual goods,” and “operating a virtual restaurant online featuring home delivery.”
It also aims to trademark “on-line actual and virtual concerts” and other entertainment services within its virtual McCafe.
The requests follow Panera Bread’s February 3 filing for the “Paneraverse,” a request from the bakery company to trademark its downloadable, virtual food and beverage items “for use in virtual worlds,” along with NFTs and the option to purchase actual goods in the virtual world to be delivered.
McDonald’s and Panera Bread are the latest to prepare for a potential virtual establishment revolution, joining major corporations like Nike, Walmart and Sketchers, who have all made similar filings in the past three months.
“When you see this critical mass of large companies making this many new trademark filings, it’s very clear this is coming,” Gerben told Forbes.
“I think you’re going to see every brand that you can think of make these filings within the next 12 months,” Gerben added. “I don’t think anyone wants to be the next Blockbuster and just completely ignore a new technology that’s coming.”
“Panera is always working to be at the forefront of tech advancement,” George Hanson, the company’s chief digital officer, said in a statement to Forbes. “As a brand we are consistently looking for new ways to better our guest experience, whether in our cafes or in the metaverse.”
These requests often take the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office eight to nine months to review, according to Gerben, though he says McDonalds should have no troubles getting the trademarks approved. While the Metaverse is not the only virtual world in which these trademarks can be used, Meta appears to be leaning more heavily into its vision of a virtual world (see its October name change) than any other major technology company, and it is seeing results. According to Meta’s fourth quarter earnings report, the company pulled in more $800 million in revenue from “Reality Labs,” its division that includes its augmented and virtual reality-related consumer hardware like the Oculus, the company’s widely popular VR headset used to access the metaverse.
By Mason Bissada, Forbes Staff